Texas tales; California chronicles

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CRISPIN R. ARANDA

MY visit to Texas was a knee-jerk reaction that ran into a storm of consequences. More of why later.

A day before I arrived in Dallas, Texas, the buzz was about a hurricane to bring floods of historic proportions instead of an uncontrolled flow of immigrants at the Corpus Christi border. Harvey the hurricane was to make landfall and the Lone Star state was expecting devastation by winds.

What most meteorologists missed was the amount of water that Harvey would dump and the deluge that would stir the national discourse from walls to dikes. The nation that President Donald Trump divided between “Them” and “Us” instead got together not as RepublicanS or Democrats, conservatives or liberals but as Texans—and in the larger context—as Americans.

I was in Dallas when Harvey hit. Within the day, it became apparent that my intention to visit the NASA Space Center would not happen. I do not have friends or relatives in Houston but my daughter has and they warned me not to go because the water level was continuing to rise—and staying. Harvey passed, then returned and lingered, dumping more rain.

The next day, long lines of cars started forming. Before day’s end, there was shortage of gas in North Texas, Dallas included. My granddaughter came from college class saying she saw a lot of gas stations with signs “No gas.” The panic was on.

Everyone it seemed wanted to make sure that they would be able to pursue their plans for the three-day Labor Day weekend. A full-tank of gas was the norm to fuel the celebration. Because of the perceived shortage brought on by the Houston oil pumps having been forced to stop operations, the gas stations’ supply for a month was gone before the weekend.

Deliveries from Houston were not coming nor expected anytime thereafter. Gas and petrol supplies from other states might not come in time for those going out of town, or simply going out for the ritual day-to-day errands like getting groceries or going to work.

Many of my daughter and son-in-law’s co-workers called up to say they could not make it to work, causing instant short-handedness of healthcare workers in hospitals and facilities. My son-in-law was granted his week-long paid leave to be my guide and driver so he was immune from being asked to fill in. My daughter and son-in-law are both physical therapists.

They had been notified before I embarked on my trip that I would like to have a second opinion about my knees since the last procedure I had with a Medical City orthopedic surgeon did not bring about relief. Hence, the knee-jerk reaction.

So, the visit to an orthopedic doctor remained on schedule to determine whether I would need a knee replacement or not. Getting knees replaced in the Philippines would be wallet-drenching. With my daughter and son-in-law helping with setting appointments and arranging payments, getting a place in line and efficiently navigating through the healthcare insurance labyrinth was a blessing.

In addition, my son-in-law had filled up his gas tank in anticipation of my visit, not in expectation of a hurricane and flood.

I came to the doctor’s office hobbling with a cane. After the x-rays and cortisone shot, I left carrying the cane over my shoulder like a rifle.

For the more than 20 years that I lived in the US—after being forced to escape the country in 1980 under immediate threat of renewed detention while being tried by a military commission on subversion and sedition charges—I had paid taxes and contributed to the US Social Security System.

Unlike those who remained in legal limbo as overstayers—including approximately a million children brought to the US by their parents and granted temporary reprieve by then President Barack Obama through an executive order and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—I could avail of the benefits that come with the conscientious and continuing contribution to the fund.

Most DACA recipients—who were required to come out into the open to be granted temporary work authorization and authorized stay—were able to as well but only since June 2012. Now, that right to work and stay in the US, which was the intent of the Obama executive order, has been officially cancelled by President Trump.

Unlike his Celebrity Apprentice persona, Trump does not have the guts or courage to tell people to their face that “they’re fired.”

And so, it was the same Attorney General who was dispatched to announce the “firing” of DACA recipients, an act of cowardice characteristic of Donald Trump who did not even have the guts to do it himself, the New York Times editorial board said last week.

The Attorney General parroted the lie that emanates from the White House and its base. Sessions said DACA was a “lawless policy” that “yielded terrible humanitarian consequences…and denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of American citizens.”

The Attorney General is a Trump apple that does not fall far from the tree in terms of draping an official flag of authority to wrap a falsehood.

If the use of executive orders is unconstitutional—as Attorney General Jeff Sessions claim that DACA is—then the current White House occupant is guilty of the same crime for issuing executive orders that US courts have deemed to be legally infirm for targeting people based on religion and nationality. And it has been established that US jobs vanish not because of immigrants but due to other factors, including technology and automation.

In California, another evacuation was to come a day after my arrival from Texas.

Wildfires turned more than 3,000 acres in the Burbank and Sun Valley area to ashes. Residents were evacuated from Burbank—tagged as the “Media Capital of the World,” home to Hollywood and Disneyland, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, NBC and Cartoon Network studios.

The mini-inferno was the rain on this holiday traveler’s parade.

On the morning of my arrival at NAIA Terminal 1 (Friday, September 8), a stronger hurricane was threatening Florida and Georgia. By Saturday morning Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned millions of Florida residents that they should evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma.

President Trump’s 11-room mansion on the Caribbean island of St. Martin was reported torn apart by Irma and his Mar-a-Lago Resort in Florida’s Palm Beach, the White House in the south, was also ordered evacuated.

Climate change sure has a unique way of validating itself from the First Detractor.

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